Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wellness Wednesday...On Thursday

> Diagnosis and Care 2
This week I've gotten my days mixed up and neglected to do my usual Wellness Wednesday on...Wednesday.  So I'm making it up today; better late than never.

I found this interesting article on the New York Times website.  While I worry about low income individuals and families who don't have access to basic healthcare, it seems many Americans are suffering from over treatment in the hands of physicians.  And, in addition to the physical and mental discomfort experienced when undergoing time consuming and sometimes invasive testing, these procedures are costing a whopping $210 billion a year.  

A couple of years ago, I found myself in this cycle.  I was going to a holistic medical doctor for pervasive fatigue and other minor issues.  After undergoing a thorough exam and some tests, I was given a variety of vitamins and supplements that helped me regain my health.  But then every six months, I was told I needed to come in for follow up testing - even though I was doing fine.  The doctor's office said it was to make sure my levels were normal and that the vitamins and supplements were working.  After a while, I realized I didn't need to go back that often.   

Several years before that, when I had just relocated to Virginia, I decided to have a complete physical exam done by my doctor in Florida.  At my appointment, I explained to the office that I had just moved but wanted a thorough exam, just in case.  Imagine my surprise when I got a call a few weeks later requesting that I come in for a follow-up appointment.  I explained that I no longer lived nearby and wasn't able to travel there unless there was a problem with any of the tests.  Turns out, everything was fine and it wasn't necessary for me to make a follow-up visit.  All I could surmise was that the extra visit was another way to generate revenue.  

A friend also confirmed that sometimes the medical profession over treats patients, just to be on the same side - and also because those patients happen to have health insurance.  This individual sought help for depression and ended up being treated as an in-patient at a hospital. There were no risk factors for this patient that would call for hospitalization and the experience of being at the hospital with patients that were potentially dangerous was traumatizing.  As a result, my friend wasn't able to sleep well at night and also experienced bad side effects from all the medications that were prescribed.  The experience was summed up this way:  "They were experimenting on me."

I'm glad that we have modern medical treatments available.  However, when there is no clear reason for the testing or a patient won't experience an improvement in health as a result, further treatment is unnecessary and a waste of resources.  Sometimes modern technology turns out to be too much of a good thing.

No comments: